Monday, October 16, 2006

Waste Not Want Not

When all is said and done, I lead a thin, sterile little life. It hurts to write these words, and it hurts to know they’re true. But they are.

My life – this precious thing – is wasting away by moments. I work, I eat, I sleep, I read newspapers and novels and I watch t.v. I shop for groceries and do housework. I play the piano – alone – and I knit. I don’t go out, because I don’t have anyone to go out with (Himself is very content with a quiet, solitary life) and I wouldn’t know where to go if I did.

I didn’t mean it to be this way – my plans were quite different, really. I was going to be … wonderful. I was going to be generous. wise. passionate. fun. loving. beloved. strong. I was going to make a difference – to someone, somewhere. I was going to be happy.

So what happened?

In a nutshell, I happened. I have known (in my heart of hearts I have known) that I am simply Not Good Enough. Not smart enough. Not friendly enough. Not wise or strong or fun enough. Not decisive enough. Not competent to be in charge. Not loving enough. Not worthy.

So instead I play it safe. I’m cautious about what I do, whom I let in to my life, what I choose to experience … and what I choose to avoid. I indulge my self-doubt with a rich diet of “I-couldn’t-do-THAT-s,” and ignore the fact that I am starving myself of life. And I AM starving – for richness, for passion, for depth and meaning and purpose. For, ultimately, some kind of connection with the world.

[Does this sound self-pitying? Yup. Al-right-y then, let’s add another loop in the “not good enough” chain. Hmmm, I think I’ll call this one “Too whiny.”]

Over the past year or so, though, I have finally started to understand what is meant by the saying “What you fear, you create.” I am angry that I have spent so much of my life feeding this gluttonous child of fear and doubt – this spiritual cannibal – who is both myself and not myself. But I also know it is time to let go, since my anger simply sustains the beast.

While I’m nowhere close to fear-free yet, I can at least now see my enemy/myself for who – and what – she is. And, you know what? She’s just not good enough. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.

Instead, I am turning my attention to my thin, neglected waif of a life. She doesn’t deserve to be hungry and afraid. She hasn’t done anything wrong. Nothing at all, except that she doesn’t stand up for herself very well. And, what’s more, she has waited patiently for me to discover a simple, startling truth. When I am not afraid, I feel beautiful. I become beautiful. And we blossom.

15 Comments:

At 7:45 PM, October 16, 2006, Blogger CoffeeDog said...

Live out loud, take up space!

 
At 6:58 AM, October 17, 2006, Blogger smith said...

Becoming aware is the step to change that is the most important. It is maintaining that awareness that is the next.
I read all these wonderful things you do and you gloss over them.
Quit giving your soul black eyes.
What was your plan?
I read abstact things, but nothing concrete? How does one measure one's accomplishments that aren't measurable.
You sound like a wonderful being…and aware.

 
At 8:28 AM, October 17, 2006, Blogger Snooze said...

I too often think of the Shirley Valentine line where she says that she's led such a small life. The important thing is to recognize that you want a change (which you have done), but also to not be so hard on yourself. All the items you describe sounds quite wonderful in an of themselves. In fact, you sound quite wonderful.

 
At 11:03 AM, October 17, 2006, Blogger mainja said...

i know it sounds trite, but sometimes it's amazing how much just acknowledging it can do to change it.

we're cheering you on, good luck!

 
At 2:30 PM, October 17, 2006, Blogger Susan as herself said...

Oh, Ink... I think we have all felt this way. But it's not inescapable or irreparable. It's normal to feel insecure and afraid and weak. Some people are just more open and honest about it.

I am just going to say right now that you sound like a real GEM and that only YOU can make your life feel small and yourself feel unworthy. You are smart, generous, hard-working, insightful, and intuitive. And these things I only know from your WRITING. I imagine if I met you I'd feel all that and more!!!

Please start treating yourself as you'd treat your best friend. I have to remind myself to do that sometimes too... It's easy to neglect oneself in this harsh, busy, dangerous world. But it can be fixed.

Do something that scares you a little, and revel in it. Just try.

And if I lived where you are I'd go out with you anytime. :)

 
At 2:51 PM, October 17, 2006, Blogger tornwordo said...

I think what you describe is far more universal than you can imagine.

 
At 7:07 PM, October 17, 2006, Blogger ink said...

CD - I really love your way of putting things. Hope you don't mind if I add it to my repetoire (I have a little set of sayings I tell myself to keep things on track). Thanks for the encouragement!

Smith - Welcome! And thank you so very much for your kind words. I'm working very hard ... well, QUITE hard ... to be as supportive of myself as I like to think I am to others. Some of it involves changing the way I behave - figuring out what I really like (as opposed to what I think I ought to like) for instance - and some of it involves changing the way I think about myself. What seems to work best for me is short, pithy reminders - like CoffeeDog's comment above - about where I'm going and what I need to do to get there. You're right though - progress is not easy to measure. Half the time I feel like I'm moving forward, and the rest of the time I'm falling flat on my face. Just have to trust in the process, and that evertyhing will come right in the end, I suppose.

Snooze - You know, I hadn't thought about Shirley Valentine in ages (great movie, BTW!) but that's it exactly! Thank you so much for your encouragement and for reminding me that I need to be gentle with myself. You sound pretty wonderful yourself!

Manja - The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right? Thanks!

Susan - Thanks so much for the good advice - and the offer to hang out! I'll take you up on it for sure if I ever make it down your way. I've never been very good at risk-taking, but reprogramming how I think about the unknown is absolutely critical if I'm ever to really change for good. Only has to be a little scary, though, right?

Tornwordo - Well, it's nice to know I'm not alone. At the same time, it's pretty sad that we all have to suffer through the same angst! Here's to being at one with the universe, eh?

 
At 7:51 PM, October 17, 2006, Blogger Lucia said...

Isn't the beauty of life made up of all these moments of reading novels and knitting and buying groceries?

 
At 5:07 PM, October 18, 2006, Blogger Sister Staceypatrick said...

Oh my dear Ink, you are beautiful and interesting and wise, truly you are! I think, as Susan said, we all get this way. I mean, where is my exciting high profile acting career gone? To a corporate communications gig in the financial industry, that's where! But ultimately I think that life is what we make it, and if you want to get out then honey, go for it! You were big into theatre in university, so why not find a group in your neighbourhood? Maybe a good social and creative outlet will make you feel less in a rut - I know my dancing helps me feel that I'm still nurturing my creative side and ensuring I don't sit home watching tv every night (though some nights, it's the best way to spend an evening, you know?).

Kisses baby!!!

 
At 6:47 PM, October 18, 2006, Blogger ink said...

Lucia - Welcome! I agree with you completely about the significance of those little things in life - although I know it doesn't sound like it from this post. I actually do get profound satisfaction from reading, knitting, piano and, yes, groceries. They are, in themselves, acts of loveliness and life. But living my life as a series of small satisfactions - of beauties that are for me alone - well, it just isn't working for me anymore. I'm missing something ... something big ... that would help me understand where I fit in with the bigger picture. So, in the end, I suppose I'm looking for the beauty that stems from a meaningful life rather than the beauty that arises from satisfaction.

Sister - You're pretty gorgeous yourself, you know! (And, BTW, the financial sector is lucky to have you!) I have been thinking about hooking up with a local theatre troupe - just don't know where I'd find the time. I definitely do miss being creative, though, and being part of group doing something fun. I know there's opportunities out there - I just have to decide what I want to do. And then I actually have to do it. "Hmmmmm," as Deep Thought said, "... Tricky!"

 
At 7:14 PM, October 18, 2006, Blogger smith said...

I thought of someting I said to someone once who was beating themselves up over decisions they made when 18 years old. This guy always said "coulda woulda shoulda". Here he was almost 80 and looking back at his life from an 80 year old's perspective.
Please, please, please, try not to question decisions that were correct for someone you are not now, who has not had the experience of and wisdom of hindsight.
The blog illustrates that you are able to incorporate the experiences from the past and, hopefully, make decisions about how to proceed from here.
"LIVE OUT LOUD, TAKE UP SPACE!!"
peace to you.

 
At 7:15 PM, October 18, 2006, Blogger smith said...

I thought of someting I said to someone once who was beating themselves up over decisions they made when 18 years old. This guy always said "coulda woulda shoulda". Here he was almost 80 and looking back at his life from an 80 year old's perspective.
Please, please, please, try not to question decisions that were correct for someone you are not now, who has not had the experience of and wisdom of hindsight.
The blog illustrates that you are able to incorporate the experiences from the past and, hopefully, make decisions about how to proceed from here.
"LIVE OUT LOUD, TAKE UP SPACE!!"
peace to you.

 
At 9:13 PM, October 18, 2006, Blogger EarthMother said...

Wow, that post was powerfully painful to read. I can only imagine how difficult it was to actually write it.
I think it's safe to say that most of us have felt exactly the same way you have. The difference is that you have acknowledged what you want to change and that is the first step towards something big.
Like everyone else here, I do think you're a pretty wonderful and amazing person with a great deal of sensitivity and depth of character. I also think you're way too hard on yourself. I love reading your blog and can't imagine that I would do so if you were a completely 'safe' kind of person.
Also remember that the minutae in life that we must attend to on a daily basis often makes it hard for us to always live on the edge and with a great deal of passion. Dreary, but it also keeps us from flying completely off the edge at times.

 
At 4:35 PM, October 19, 2006, Blogger Greg the Surly said...

Your first assignment is to go running with scissors.

 
At 5:15 PM, October 19, 2006, Blogger ink said...

Smith - Thanks for those wise words. It's a real challenge for me not to judge myself, but I am trying hard not to get buried in past decisions (I almost wrote "mistakes" ... See. I'm learning!)

EM - Thanks for your kind words, and the reminder that the day-to-day stuff plays an important role in our lives too. I've been told by more than a few people, on more than a few occasions) that I'm too hard on myself, and I really am trying to stop being so destructive of myself. The big challenge now is accepting that I won't/can't change overnight. (There's that perfectionist again!)

Greg - :-) You always know how to make me smile. I once sewed myself to my sewing machine ... does that count?

 

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